See opening comments for Grundy County Mayoral and Sheriff Candidate Debates – Parts 1 and 2.
Part 3 – Mayoral Debate
Michael Brady – Winner of Democratic Primary (No Show)
Aubrey Lee Harper – Winner of Republican Primary
Harper: Lives in Skymont, graduated from Grundy County High School, has a Bachelor’s (BS) degree in Marketing, and a Masters in Business Management (MBA)
Feels his education and management experience qualify him to manage Grundy County as Mayor.
He wants to see Grundy County “get back on budget,” and be a place people would “chose as home.”
1. Question Subject: What do you see as the biggest challenge?
Harper: The county budget and financial issues. Fiscal responsibility and working to the budget. We have to “manage our money.”
Also, county leadership
The challenge of dealing with drug use in the county.
2. Question Subject: Industry growth in Grundy County
Harper: Bringing industry to the county is important.
He has a background in manufacturing, and has managed large businesses.
Region is a major factor Grundy County is well located to support automotive manufacturing; we have the resources and we have the workforce.
Major effort will be to bring more 50-to-100-employee companies to the county. Added manufacturing companies will cause growth in other areas such as service businesses—and keep us out of bankruptcy.
Mayor has to provide leadership to our other departments.
He returned to the theme of managing the budget.
3. Question Subject: What would you do when a government department is in danger of running over budget?
Harper: The county mayor has to be engaged with each major department—not micro managing, but aware of the fiscal status of each department to be able to detect fiscal problems early.
Reemphasized that we have to manage the budget
4. Question Subject: What to do about the homeless animal population.
Harper: Agrees it is a problem. There are resources in the county (not county funded) that can be leveraged, but we do have to find a way.
5. Question Subject: Excessive Trash around County
Harper: Must look for causes and sources of trash, solutions.
Look for solutions. Review our Convenience Center operations.
Harper is open to the idea of a county landfill based on suitable location and affordable cost.
6. Question Subject: How can you increase citizen involvement?
Harper: My administration “will be open about what we are doing.” We can use resources such as Grundy County TV to be present in the public eye. Will be “open” to public view, which should encourage citizen involvement. Transparent and open.
7. Question Subject: Citizens have been kept in the dark. How do you make it transparent?
Harper: The county has commission meetings and workshops. There is also information available through Grundy County TV. “I will promise” to make sure these meetings and events are announced, and publish the schedules of public meetings.
Harper says he looks forward to the day when commission meetings are full.
8. Question Subject: The Budget: What needs to be cut, what needs to be increase, and do we increase revenue.
Harper: We need more revenue. Revenue through more manufacturing businesses in the county and through promoting tourism.
We will have to take a hard look at the budge once in office. We may have to identify places to cut waste. Some county “perks” may have to be cut back.
9. Question Subject: What will be your first priority as County Mayor?
Harper: The Budget. And then more manufacturing jobs in the county.
10. Question Subject: What do you see as having greatest economic impact on the county?
Harper: Drug related expenses: law enforcement, loss of productive labor from users, prison operation, etc. The cost goes beyond the simple cost of the drugs.
11. Question Subject: Young people need more things to do.
Harper: Grundy county has lots of natural outdoor activities: Stone Door, hiking trails. This is an area where we need citizen leadership; maybe some kind of theater (live acting) etc.
12. Question Subject: Who has had a major influence on you and your life?
Harper: His Father, and Radford Lusk, a teacher and Grundy County High School that told him, when he was going to start work at Carrier to make the most of his time. If he did not have something to do, find something.
13. Question Subject: Qualifications to be Mayor.
Harper: To start: Education, BS in Marketing and MBA.
20 years in manufacturing management, responsible for large business budgets
Harper was responsible for financial management, as well as people management and human resources responsibilities.
Made a decision to run for mayor based on what he saw as a need in Grundy County—a need that would allow him to effectively apply is experience and knowledge to improve conditions.
14. Question Subject: Core Beliefs
Harper: Strong Christian character “quote for Jesus”
Care about the county. Have talents to use in the county.
Politically, is not big on political labels, but basically conservative.
15. Question Subject: On the last day of your term, what do you want to have accomplished?
Harper: The county will be on budget!
We will have increased the number of manufacturing jobs by several hundred or more.
The county will be on a path of economic growth.
The problem with drugs will be on decline.
Tourism will be up.
Agriculture will be strong.
Harper: Have to communicate and engage with people. I will:
Go after more good jobs in the county
Get the county on budget.
Communicate with the citizens of Grundy County
Be a leader in the County.